You Can Have What You Want In Life – If You Focus And Work For It

The Pareto principle (more commonly known a the 80/20 rule or “the law of the vital few”) asserts that for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.

Wikipedia called Pareto’s principle a “common rule of thumb in business” whereas 80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients. Mathematicians have furthered this study in a wide variety of situations from income distribution to crop yields and discovered many natural phenomenon empirically exhibit this 80/20 distribution.

Trea Drake wrote an article for Kravology a few weeks ago entitled Self Control: Learn & Prosper which had me thinking about how Pareto’s principle and self control or discipline are related. Self discipline is considered by many (businessmen, athletes, authors) to be one of the most important attributes we can develop. In fact, it makes up a portion of the 20% of our skill set that yield 80% of our results.

If mastering the art of self discipline can provide these results in a way that allows us to work smarter, what tips and techniques can we employ to improve this valuable skill?

1. Develop and Follow Your Priorities

Determine what is really a priority in your life, and free yourself from everything else. When you eliminate distractions that are not part of a small list of your priorities, it becomes much easier to focus on what is important and follow through with the commitments you have made to yourself.

2. Make a Disciplined Lifestyle Your Goal

Discipline is cultivated over time, and as with any skill, it takes practice. Develop systems and routines around your priorities. Scheduling time for these priorities is crucial to your success and helps built habits.

3. Quit Making Excuses

Excuse making is an unfortunate tendency. In developing a lifestyle of self discipline, challenge yourself not to make excuses. These are most often lies you tell yourself to feel better about making poor choices. Don’t think they are lies? Would you be making the same ‘claims/excuses’ to avoid the [task] if instead it was something you considered fun? Don’t undermine yourself by making excuses.

4. Remove Rewards Until the Work is Done

Successful people have cultivated the self discipline required to complete the work and reward themselves afterward (not all along the way). Goal setting is a key component of success and how you manage the work/reward balance often determines whether your goals are met at all.

5. Stay Focused on Results

Perhaps this seems like the most obvious one on the list, yet it remains a major pitfall. You must concentrate on the results/benefits, not the hard work/pain it takes to get there. If every marathon runner focused on how long/hard/demanding the race is and how painful/weak/exhausted they felt, would any of them ever finish? No! Visualize what is on the other side of the work—the light at the end of the tunnel if you will. That is what will keep you going.

Pareto’s principle is an interesting phenomenon and serves as an important reminder of focus and efficiency. By implementing the practice of self discipline in our lives, we can see exponentially growing results—in whatever endeavors are important to us.

In the end, you can have whatever you are wiling to work to obtain. Beyond the work, the hardest part may very well be saying goodbye to those parts of your life that ultimately hold you back from the results you REALLY want.

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